On Tuesday February 23, 2010, 10:05 am EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of “problem” U.S. banks jumped 27 percent during the fourth quarter of 2009 to 702, the highest level since 1993 and a sign the industry’s recovery is still shaky, regulators reported on Tuesday.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp said the industry overall eked out a profit of $914 million for the quarter, benefiting from a healing economy, but said the improvement was concentrated in the largest banks.

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said the profit was a huge improvement over the $37.8 billion loss the industry reported in the fourth quarter of 2008. “It’s not that this was a strong quarter. It’s simply that everything was so bad a year ago,” Bair said in a statement.

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